Ask the Expert: Back-to-School Steps to Make Sure Your Child Has a Happy, Healthy Smile Throughout the Year
Parents, help your kids start the school year off right by encouraging good nutrition and daily dental habits.
Summer is winding down and families are busy getting ready for a new school year. While parents are consumed with back to school sales, stocking up on pens, backpacks, and tablet computers, they should also prepare their children to have healthy dental habits while away from home. Dental problems are one of the leading causes of school absence by children in the US. Just as important as having all of the necessary supplies, maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums is an important part of a successful and productive school year.
Depending on age, some parents may need to prepare their child for afternoon naps and snacks, others for braces and orthodontic work and some for the freedom to make their own food choices throughout the day. No matter the stage of development, establishing good dental habits at home can carry over into good practices at school. Dr. Wilma McPherson of Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry says, “there’s no age at which a child forgets his dental habits once they’ve been routinely established at home from a young age.” There are several ways parents can ensure their children start the school year with a happy, healthy smile.
1. Establish a routine for twice-daily brushing for two minutes, preferably after breakfast and after dinner to clear away food particles. Young children often take easily to set routines and this sort of healthy habit will carry them into their teenage years and beyond. In the early years, be sure to be an active part of your child’s dental hygiene. Singing songs, lending a helping hand or even brushing alongside your child are all ways to instill good technique and reinforce the importance of this daily habit.
2. Be sure to schedule a dental visit around the start of the school year. These appointments can fill up fast, so make it a habit to schedule your fall appointment in early spring to avoid the rush. Children’s bodies grow and change rapidly and their teeth are no exception so make sure to keep your twice yearly dentist appointment. Appointments for Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry can be scheduled directly on the website or by calling 201.434.3002. Children who have early, regular exposure to the dentist often have a more positive relationship with the dentist office as well as fewer cavities throughout life.
3. Make healthy food choices part of your child’s routine. Avoid sticky, sweet or overly starchy foods at home and in your children’s lunch boxes. It can be difficult to regulate what children eat once they leave the house, but many kids will gravitate towards the tastes and snacks they’re used to from their earliest development. Instead of giving your kids sugar-laden processed treats, swap them out for whole fruits, veggie sticks, nuts, and dairy products like cheese sticks. Encourage children to know the consequences of what they eat and how they care for their teeth. Books such as Sugar Bugs present kids with an illustrated look at dental care.
4. It’s impossible to prevent all injuries, but accidents happen…be prepared for emergencies. Keep your pediatric dentist’s office programmed in your phone and feel free to share it with school and daycare personnel. For older children, make sure they’re properly fitted for a sports mouth guard for their competitive play. Discuss emergency plans with your pediatric dentist during your start of year dental appointment. Having a plan in place and questions answered in advance will ease the anxiety of dealing with any accidents.
The Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry team is here to help you start the school year off right. Contact JCPD at 201-434-3002 or visit us online at JCPDentistry.com to learn more about our team and set up an appointment. Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry is Where Little Smiles Come to Shine!